Identity should be about more than just tailfins

How literal-minded is the UK design community that discussion about the BA “identity” revolves around what happens on the tailfins of its planes?

What the contributors to this discussion have all conveniently ignored is the fact that this organisation is going through a protracted “identity crisis” – a crisis marked by allegations of “dirty tricks”, low staff morale and now dwindling profits.

No amount of cosmetic tinkling, bold or otherwise, is likely to do more than confound the problem. It is like building your house not on sand but sludge. So is it any surprise the marvellous edifice has simply keeled over?

Before BA can re-engineer its image, it has to get to grips with who it is. Is it a vehicle for “shareholder value”, built on the legacy of a former nationalised behemoth, squeezing profits through cynical disregard of employees and customers, or is it a community prepared to accept a modern, inclusive agenda?

Does it believe in fair competition, based on innovation, quality of service and meeting customer needs, or does it think that the only way it can survive is to depend on dubious practices and the indulgent patronage of Government? Does it actually stand for something anyone can feel proud of (or, for that matter, even comprehend)?

These are all difficult questions, and they can only be resolved by some cathartic soul-searching.

That’s what BA’s “identity consultants” (or those who would fill their shoes) ought to be suggesting. Only when there is some “identity”, some character there to be represented, can the task of representing it begin.

James Souttar

ancient@urizen.com

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